AFRICAN Parliamentarians have been implored to take full advantage of the recently launched African Continental Freed Trade Area (AfCFTA), in order to realize effective integration of the continent.
African nations launched the "operational phase" of a landmark free trade accord during the African Union (AU), Summit held in Niger, July this year, creating the world's potential largest free trade area.
Speaking at the ongoing Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Africa Region Conference here, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Mr Ngoga Karoli described the event as an opportune moment for the lawmakers to spearhead the AfCFTA agenda.
"As legislators, we have to play our rightful and expected role to harness our continent through this historic milestone," he told participants to the CPA Africa region conference.
"I am confident that together we will steer our various regions and the continent to the much-cherished unity and prosperity," the EALA Speaker added.
The AU estimates that the AfCFTA agreement--which cuts tariffs between African nations--will lead to a 60-percent boost in intra-African trade by 2022.
There are still key issues that need to be ironed out among African nations following the signing of the agreement, such as setting common criteria to determine rules of origin for traded products.
At the moment, African countries trade only about 16 percent of their goods and services among one another, compared to 65 percent with European countries.
About 400 delegates, including Speakers, Deputy Speakers and other dignitaries from Commonwealth member countries across Africa are in Zanzibar for the CPA Region conference.
Yesterday, the parliamentarians had the opportunity to discuss various topics relating to ICT and important pillars of good governance and democracy.
The topics included the use of ICT in strengthening public involvement in the legislative process, the use of social media in enhancing Parliamentarians' constituency engagements and strategies to enable women's participation in decision making.
Other topics presented and discussed were; enhancing ICT use in providing life changing solutions in rural communities, the role of technology in developing democratic practices and implementation of Youth Policies as a tool to combat migration.